Council moves to resolve long-standing Rocky land dispute
Years of back and forth between Rockhampton Regional Council and a property owner may soon be resolved on paper, but not to the latter’s satisfaction.
Former Rockhampton nurse and Wandal homeowner Peter Witt’s grievances with the council go back decades.
He said that 35 Jardine Street, which is owned by the council, is managed and built on by a neighbour.
Mr Witt is concerned about the potential for damage to nearby life and property by flood water and “flood-borne missiles”.
“I’ve been like a rat up a drain pipe consistently for the last two or three years,” he said.
“I’m vicariously liable if I’ve got a tenant in a house that then gets washed away.”
In September last year the council moved a motion to begin the process of entering into a freehold licence with those encroaching on the land.
The council’s policy gives the CEO authority to sign such agreements, and defines encroachment as “a situation in real estate where a property owner or permitted occupant(s) violates the property rights of a neighbour (Council) by making improvements or erecting structures on or over the neighbour’s land”.
The motion was moved by then-mayor Margaret Strelow, seconded by councillor Donna Kirkland, and all but deputy mayor Neil Fisher voted in its favour.
Mr Witt said the situation “doesn’t pass the pub test”.
“It’s not encroachment; it’s the occupation and the construction of a barbecue area on council-owned land, and the use of that land for a private purpose without the consent of council for over 20 years,” he said.
CEO Evan Pardon said the category of the encroachment at 35 Jardine Street was ‘restrictive’, so the granting of a freehold licence was appropriate.
“The Local Government Regulation 2012 does not require a Council resolution to enter into a License agreement,” he said.
In any case, Mr Pardon said the licence process was not yet complete.
“The parcel is affected by a full range of stormwater events,” he said.
“When Council considers any licence conditions, multiple sections of Council are consulted including Council’s Engineering team.
“Liability is determined on a case-by-case basis. The Licensee, who maintains the land, if determined to be liable, would respond to the claim via their public liability insurance; however, it could be that nobody is liable for an alleged injury/damage.”
He said a five-year licence had been proposed.